Change! I have heard that word several times in my lifetime. How many times have you heard someone or yourself say, “I need a change!” We all perceive that word differently. I see it as wanting to change your appearance.
I was 12-years-old and just started 7th grade. I had always been conscientious about my body. I grew up watching my mom struggle with her weight and dieting. I didn’t understand why she needed all the pills because I thought she was already perfect in my eyes. I started puberty 2 months before my 13th birthday. My junior high years were the worst! I wasn’t the popular girl. I wasn’t invited to all the parties. But one thing that remained true; I never lost myself nor changed myself for anyone – until I heard this word..
The scale is not your friend
I was 13-years-old. Boys called me fat. People would say, “just don’t let it bother you!” but I thought everyone felt that way about me. At that moment, change set in. I was about to embark on a a dangerous journey.
I immediately changed my eating habits and weighed myself daily. This obsession would completely take over my thought process for 22 years!
All I could think about was being skinny. I would starve myself and if I did eat, I’d purge, take diet pills and laxatives. I made excuses to not eat and when I did eat, it was very little. Food became my enemy! Weighing myself wasn’t fun either, because my weight was never good enough. I can’t fully explain why I did it repeatedly or why I did it for so long.
It consumed me and that’s all I know.
Even though I thought no one knew, my family did. I couldn’t control my surroundings or my emotions. If I could paint a picture on how I felt deep inside, it would be very black and white. I wasn’t seeking attention, I was crying out! Not that I didn’t love life, I was just hurting inside.
Through the years
As time went on, I got married and had 3 kids. My husband was aware of my eating disorders but didn’t know the severity. I hardly ever talked about it to anyone. He didn’t know how to approach it. He also didn’t understand why or how anyone could do that to themselves.
I was 24-years-old. My eating disorders stuck with me. But never once when I was pregnant with my daughters, did I let those demons control me (that was very tough, but my babies always come first). I thought I defeated them!
After the birth of my youngest, my eating disorders flared up. I suffer from PTSD, anxiety and depression and the death of my brother was incredibly difficult. I couldn’t control my surroundings, so I took it out on myself. That’s the only way I felt I could control and deal with it.
I won’t lie, I felt good when I relieved myself.
I weighed 125 lbs when I first weighed myself 10 months after Alyson was born. But that wasn’t good enough in my mind! I started to excessively exercise. Then that led to measuring my body. In April 2005, I weighed 105 lbs. This was the lowest I had ever been and would ever be. My mother showed concern by pointing out my flaws. My father showed it by calling my doctor. I was in complete denial. I didn’t believe I had a problem. At this point, I didn’t see how I was destroying myself. I just remember feeling weak and fatigued.
The mirror has two sides
I hadn’t thoroughly looked at myself in a mirror. I don’t remember all the details, but what I do remember was looking for the first time. I could ‘finally’ see how frail I was. My thinning hair, dry and thinned skin, my face was pale and cheek bones stood out, my hollow eyes with dark circles, and brittle and cracking nails. I could clearly see that I had a problem.
The mirror has two sides. One side is what we want to see and the other side is reality. Why did I let it go this far? Why was I not allowing my family and friends to help me? I would’ve done the same if I had seen someone in my position. Especially if it was my daughters!
Finding peace and solace
I found treatment during the summer of 2005. I remember my blood pressure being 76/44 and my hemoglobin at 9. When I combed or washed my hair, I’d have strands fall out. It takes a lot of faith and patience to get through it. Talking and expressing my feelings definitely helped in my recovery. Although I go in and out of remission, I’m able to find some peace and solace that I’ve finally accepted the disorders.
I became an advocate for the National Eating Disorders of America and I also started becoming public about it in the past 6 years. I will always fear that my daughters’ might end up with an eating disorder. That is out of my control, so instead I pray daily.
Do I feel ashamed of having an eating disorder? No. Do I regret having one? Yes. Did I waste my time on having one? Absolutely.
I am now 35. I don’t know what I weigh, because I refuse to let a scale define me. I have learned to control the demons that try to pull me over the edge with my body. It’s a constant battle of good and evil inside my head. I have to walk away when people start talking about dieting, because it’s a sore subject. Life altering changes do flare up my eating disorders, but I’m improving every step of the way. I’m blessed and thankful to God that I’m living, breathing and enjoying life!
If you know someone or see the signs of someone with an eating disorder, please visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.
org. This site provides information, support, referrals and education on eating disorders.